Maemura Akinori: Dr. Hirabaru was kind of the cofounder of my com­pa­ny, which is JPNIC, Japan Network Information Center. And that was estab­lished in 1991. And at the time the Internet was just dra­mat­i­cal­ly grow­ing from the inter­con­nec­tion of the research net­works to the net­works that every­one on the globe was using and rely­ing on. 

JPNIC was one of the very first del­e­ga­tees of a cer­tain [IPO?] that broke from the NIC. But the IP address man­age­ment at the time was just run by vol­un­teers of the researchers of the com­put­er net­work. It was not real­ly a stream­lined ser­vice, and there were no clear rules or cri­te­ria or some­thing like that. So JPNIC need­ed to estab­lish a lot of pro­ce­dures, rules, and ser­vice struc­tures and so on. So Dr. Hirabaru was the key play­er and the leader to estab­lish the JPNIC orga­ni­za­tion itself, and then estab­lished a lot of rules, pro­ce­dures, and the ser­vice plat­form and infrastructure.

Mika Hirabaru: My father did­n’t talk much with my fam­i­ly about his work. He was just my father and not an engi­neer for me. He was a very good father for me. And so this induc­tion gives a chance to find out the oth­er side of my father so I could know a new side of him. So it was very great for me.

Intertitle: Describe one of the break­through moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?

Akinori: Making a rule in a place where there are no rules is quite…a very big [indis­tinct]. So you know, every­thing is quite casually—not orga­nized, casu­al­ly done by the vol­un­teers with their own beliefs or rules. So when the Internet became pop­u­lar to all peo­ple, a dif­fer­ent thing was need­ed of stream­lin­ing or orga­nized ser­vice kind of con­cept. So that was a very big point of the Internet to be what it is right now. So it’s a very big point. And such orga­ni­za­tion includ­ed for exam­ple the fee struc­ture. The IPS man­age­ment is just for help­ing the research net­work before his work. But the fee struc­ture means that JPNIC with his lead­er­ship tried to set a new fee struc­ture with the con­cept that the cost should be borne by the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Before that the [help?] of the research net­work was just fund­ed by the research fund from some cer­tain enti­ty for fund­ing the research. At the time actu­al­ly, the major­i­ty of the peo­ple thought that the research fund was enough to run the kind of reg­istry ser­vice. But he with our JPNIC col­leagues tried to for­mu­late a new scheme of cost recov­ery from the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. So that was actu­al­ly a real­ly his­toric deci­sion for the reg­istry ser­vice at the time. 

Intertitle: What does it mean to you that Masaki Hirabaru was induct­ed to the Internet Hall of Fame?

Akinori: He’s a real­ly good leader. I was find­ing through the process of his induc­tion to the Hall of Fame, I was con­tact­ing a lot of his col­leagues. And I found out how much he was loved by the col­leagues. He’s a nat­ur­al leader, and there are a lot peo­ple still say­ing that he was a great guy and told me a lot of mem­o­ries of him. So I gath­er that he’s a great leader, and actu­al­ly took the great lead­er­ship not only in JPNIC but also a lot of oth­er research net­work activ­i­ties with­in Japan as well as over the Asia-Pacific region. That tells us how he was a good leader. And that kind of strong lead­er­ship was there in the right time, in the right place, to help the Internet to move to the next step.

Hirabaru: It was an amaz­ing thing and a sur­pris­ing thing for me, because I did­n’t have the chance to com­mu­ni­cate with these peo­ple before now. So this is the first time we met oth­er, and all they say is he was a great man and he made a great thing in this Internet world. So it was very new for me, always new for me. So it was great.

Intertitle: What do you think was Masaki Hirabaru’s legacy?

Akinori: We have three inductees to the Hall of Fame from Japan oth­er than Dr. Hirabaru. And they were more or less involved in JPNIC. But in its emerg­ing phase… So a lot of peo­ple actu­al­ly were involved in JPNIC but he’s quite spe­cial. He’s really…for exam­ple, even peo­ple who are not famil­iar with the details of JPNIC’s his­to­ry, many peo­ple nev­er fail to point out that he was the leader in that peri­od. And he took up tire­less effort to do a lot of jobs, as I said. So he made a real­ly big start­ing point, and that was a good start for our busi­ness at JPNIC. Sometimes we say that we need to fol­low his spir­it. A lot of peo­ple involved in that day are so pre­cious, but I mean he’s quite precious.

Hirabaru: He made things with them as a team. Not just for him­self but for a team. 

Intertitle: What are your great­est hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?

Akinori: It’s a quite spe­cial peri­od of time, 2014. We are doing a lot of things work­ing with so-called Internet gov­er­nance. The con­text is how the Internet…the deci­sions, rules, stan­dards, and such kind of—how they should be deter­mined. Like that. Another—not real­ly tech­ni­cal and sub­stan­tial, but anoth­er aspect that we need for sta­bi­liz­ing Internet oper­a­tion. So that is one of chal­lenges right now. 

Another point is secu­ri­ty. So, the Internet made a lot of peo­ple’s life very con­ve­nient and very pow­er­ful. It’s much quick­er than before. That means that good things can be done quick, as well as bad things can be done very quick. So it accel­er­ates both good and bad at the same time. So secu­ri­ty means how to sup­press the bad thing being done quick­ly, or sup­press­ing the bad thing itself. It’s very hard. For exam­ple we have a lot of sur­veil­lance issues, and pri­va­cy [indul­ge­ment?]. They need to have some solu­tion to avoid that. But some parts of that issue still have no viable solu­tion. And that’s what we need to tack­le. That’s maybe a bad thing.

And then a good thing is that— It’s real­ly inap­pro­pri­ate to say, but smart­phones, Internet of Things, a lot of such inno­va­tion is still chang­ing our lives. So that is how the Internet will be chang­ing, and the future of our lives with the Internet chang­ing for the future. 

So any­how, some­one says in the Hall of Fame even that the Internet is all about social­iz­ing. That peo­ple’s ideas imme­di­ate­ly get con­tact with oth­ers’ ideas. That’s the very func­tion of the Internet as a medi­um. So it’s… I don’t have any sound idea what is the lim­it of the effect of the media. For me it is infi­nite. The Internet has infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ty as the medi­um to con­nect the ideas of a lot of peo­ple. And we have more and more syn­er­gy, which we are not of suc­cess­ful­ly man­ag­ing. So I have no idea what kind of shape that is, but it’s still a real delight of mine to be involved in run­ning the Internet. 

Intertitle: What action should be tak­en to ensure the best pos­si­ble future?

Akinori: The time is real­ly dif­fer­ent from twen­ty years ago. The cir­cum­stances of the Internet have total­ly changed and it is real­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed, in terms of com­pli­cat­ed. And we need to solve a lot of prob­lems to run the Internet sus­tain­ably. So the ques­tions to be solved are total­ly dif­fer­ent from twen­ty years ago. Twenty years ago it was quite an unchart­ed job to have the Internet orga­nized. But as the Internet spread out all around the world and a lot of peo­ple rely on the Internet, from var­i­ous aspects, run­ning the Internet needs to have a much more wide spec­trum of con­cerns, issues, like pub­lic poli­cies, human rights…not only the tech­ni­cal coor­di­na­tion that JPNIC was con­cen­trat­ing on, but we need to cov­er a lot of aspects. That’s the cur­rent chal­lenge. And that’s what his wife said for the induc­tion, that Dr. Hirabaru is one of the researchers who through doing his research in the spir­it for the prof­it of peo­ple all around the world— Such a big con­cept. But I some­times think about that. Sometimes when I am involved in cer­tain job and task, then some­times I need to think, is it for the ben­e­fit of peo­ple all around the world. So such a big pic­ture to empha­size in my mind, it’s a very good exer­cise for me to do a bet­ter job. So in that man­ner his exis­tence is quite influ­en­tial to me.